Nineteenth-century Europe abounds with conspiracy both ghastly and mysterious. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian priests are strangled with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate black masses by night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres.
But what if, behind all of these conspiracies, lies just one man?
Eco s latest takes as its focal point the creation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous and discredited document used by anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists everywhere as proof of a worldwide Jewish cabal. His fictional main character, Simone Simonini, is a spy, a forger, a murderer, and a misanthrope, whose deep hatred of the Jews (for starters) drives him to cobble together the Protocols from the actual texts of historical figures like Maurice Joly, Abb Augustin Barruel, and L o Taxil. Complicating matters is Simonini s gradual realization that he is suffering from a split personality, dividing his time between his conspiratorial acts as the self-anointed Captain Simonini and as a suspicious priest, Abb Dalla Piccola. What follows is an overstuffed, intriguing, hilarious, and frustrating glimpse into the turbulent power struggles of late 19th-century Europe and the imagined path to one of the most notorious documents of the early 20th century. Readers of Eco s oeuvre will no doubt be familiar with, and most likely welcome as a challenge, the author s insistence on cluttering his narrative with what can only be characterized as intellectual braggadocio. Such extemporaneous information certainly adds to the sense of place and the awareness of being told a tale by a master, but the narrative gets lost in the details. While no one expects Dan Brown simplicity from Eco, his desire to impress and demand so much of his readers sometimes works against his best intentions. Illus.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Eco's Sixth Novel.
Somebody give that crazy recorder-blowin', lecture-givin', nicotine-smokin', book-diggin', salmon-travelin', beard-growin', list-lovin' Semioticious polymath a High Five. Literature doesn't get much better than this. Read it, or be square, or whatever. It really is very good, even in translation.
I recommend you read the reviews of this book before buying it especially The Guardian review. I failed to do this and regret deeply filling my mind with the poisonous verbiage of the protagonist. I know it is meant to be a witty commentary on prejudice and that the captain represents the opposite of the author's intelligent wisdom but still, life is too short for this.